If you’ve been applying for jobs for a while now and seemingly having absolutely no success, it’s perhaps time to take stock and see what, if anything you could be doing wrong. One of the first things perhaps you should look at is your CV itself. Yes, you may have spent hours creating and in your opinion perfecting it, however if it is not getting you in front of employers, then perhaps it’s time to look at it again. The harsh reality is that if you aren’t getting responses or calls from employers or recruiters, your CV is not of interest to them. Admittedly, there may be hundreds of applicants for every position you are applying for – however some of them are getting calls, are getting interviews…what could they be doing that is different? To help you out, just a little, here are 5 Ways to Improve Your CV.
Check your grammar and spelling
This is one of the most basic points that some applicants fail to pay enough attention to. If an employer or recruiter spots glaring spelling mistakes on a CV, it immediately conveys a poor impression of the candidate, regardless of other skills and experience. Spelling is important and can be a deciding factor in whether or not you get a call about a job. Don’t leave it to chance. Use spellcheck functions on your computer, get someone else to have a look at your CV, check and then check again. Remember too that many spellcheck programmes do not necessarily pick up on words which are spelt differently in different parts of the world. Think of the US spelling of ‘center’ versus the UK version ‘centre’. There are countless words like this. Make sure that you use spellings which are acceptable in the area you are in. Also, remember that it is not just spelling that is important – grammar matters too; from punctuation through to ensuring that you don’t use unnecessary abbreviations, text-speak or colloquialisms.
Tailor it for the job
We really cannot stress just how important this is. If you have created a CV and use it when applying for every job you see, chances are you are not having much luck. For a CV to stand out to an employer, it must look as though it is being sent just to them. It must be relevant for the job in question and must truly reflect how you as a candidate match all their key requirements. If it doesn’t, they won’t be interested. Use the job advertisement, the job description if you have it, and adapt and tailor your CV for each position you apply for. Even if you are applying for similar types of jobs, making the odd adaptation here and there to suit a particular employer can really make all the difference.
Remove the unnecessary
Admittedly quite a broad statement here, however having looked at thousands of CVs in my time as a recruiter, I can confidently say that many of them contain information that is entirely irrelevant and quite frankly, a waste of space. An employer does not want to see a CV that is in essay like format – a virtual “once upon a time” type affair. Make sure your CV is clear and succinct, that you use bullet points and that you don’t go into storytelling mode. Remember that the sole purpose of your CV is to “sell you” as a candidate. If there are sentences, words, perhaps even entire sections that aren’t doing that, then it’s time to revise or even remove them.
Make it keyword friendly
When you apply for a job online in particular, it is really important to ensure that your CV is as ‘keyword friendly’ as possible. Again, look at the job advertisement and the job description and identify the key criteria. If ‘people management’ is essential, have you actually used that term on your CV. Likewise if a proficiency in a particular software package is a must, have you actually declared this on your CV? Since many recruiters and employers themselves use systems where they undertake searches on keywords alone, failing to include these can be the deciding factor in whether or not you get a call. Even when not using these systems, a recruiter will make a decision on a candidate’s suitability pretty quickly when looking at their CV. If they undertake a quick scan and there are no essential keywords apparent, chances are that CV will be dismissed. Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure your CV is as keyword friendly as possible.
Results and achievements
If your CV simply lists your qualifications, your previous jobs and the duties therein, it probably won’t be ‘standing out from the crowd.’ An employer may be faced with lots of CVs exactly like this. What they are looking for though is evidence of a candidate with difference, who can bring real value to them and their organisation. The best way of doing this is to highlight your results and tangible achievements. Simply stating that you were a Sales Manager for Company A is not enough – you will need to provide evidence of what you did e.g. increased revenue by X% annually or were responsible for a Y% increase in customer base. These types of statements provide clear evidence of your work and the impact you have had. That is what in essence will differentiate you from another candidate. Make sure that you are detailing your results and achievements in a way that shows you have proper substance as a candidate.
We hope you will find these basic tips useful. Do let us know via the comments section below of any other tips you feel we ought to have included.
CV ready to go? Why not send it to the professionals and get a free CV review before you send it to the employer or recruiter?